Americans Foresee Energy Shortage Within 5 Years

by Lydia Saad

Majority prefers conservation over production as energy solution

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Public opinion about the nation's energy situation has been quite volatile over the past 2 years, with the ups and downs seemingly linked to gas prices, regional energy shortages, and world events. While Americans appear far less troubled by the nation's energy situation today than they did during California's 2001 energy crisis, they express more concern than a year ago.

According to Gallup's annual Environmental Issues survey, updated March 3-5, the percentage of Americans rating the nation's energy situation as "very serious" is 28%, up from 22% in March 2002 (but still well below the 58% recorded in May 2001).

Percentage Rating U.S. Energy Situation
"Very Serious"

Once again, a solid majority of Americans, 56%, predict that the country will face a "critical energy shortage" in the next 5 years. This is similar to the 60% who felt this way in March 2001, but higher than the 48% recorded in March 2002.

Will U.S. Face Critical Energy Shortage
Within Next 5 Years?

The rise in public concern about energy could be the result of the latest round of gas price increases or it could be related to uncertainty about the flow of Middle Eastern oil given the confrontation with Iraq.

Bush's Energy Rating Slides Some

The same Gallup Environmental Issues poll indicates that public approval for President Bush's handling of energy policy has fallen somewhat over the past year. The percentage saying he has done a good job dropped to 39%, down from 46% in March 2002. This is similar to the 6-point decline seen for his handling of the environment (50% said he was doing a good job on the environment in 2002 vs. 44% today). However, rather than a specific reflection of Bush's energy and environmental policies, these declines could be the natural result of the decline in overall public support for the president over the past year, as the Sept. 11 rally effect that initially boosted his job ratings has faded, and public concerns about the economy have mounted.

Public approval of the job Bush is doing as president fell by 20 points over the year, from 77% in March 2002 to 57% in the latest poll. The percentage of Americans saying he has done a good job of "keeping America prosperous" fell by nearly the same amount, from 63% to 44%.

Perhaps a better indicator of Americans' reaction to current energy policy comes from Gallup's January "Mood of America" poll. This survey, conducted Jan. 13-16, showed a 5-point decline over the past year in public satisfaction with the nation's energy policies. The percentage saying they were satisfied with the policies at that point was 40%, down from 45% in January 2002. However, it was significantly higher than the 32% recorded in January 2001.

 

Satisfaction with the nation's energy policies

 

Jan. 2003

Jan. 2002

Jan. 2001

%

%

%

Total satisfied

40

45

32

Total dissatisfied

43

42

49

Net satisfied

-3

+3

-17



Americans Continue to Put Environment Ahead of Energy Interests

Despite the apparent increase in energy concerns over the past year, Gallup finds no change in Americans' policy preferences on energy matters; these tend to favor the positions espoused by environmentalist groups rather than those of the Bush administration.

When asked which of two approaches the United States should use to solve the nation's current energy problems -- more production of oil, gas, and coal supplies, or more conservation of existing supplies by consumers -- Americans choose conservation over production, 60% to 29%. While this has not changed over the past year, 2 years ago (in 2001), a slightly higher number (33%-35%) sided with energy production.

Possible Energy Solutions:
Produce More or Conserve More?

There has been little change in the choice Americans make when asked whether the environment or development of U.S. energy supplies should be given priority. By a 49% to 40% margin, more people still choose the environment, although by a slightly smaller margin than last year.

Which Should Be the Priority:
Environmental Protection or Energy Development?

These general sentiments carry over to public preferences on specific energy policy proposals. As shown in the table below, a large majority of Americans -- roughly three-quarters or more -- favor energy conservation proposals for business and industry and for automobile fuel standards (policies consistent with the Kyoto international global warming treaty from which the Bush administration has withdrawn the United States). By contrast, a majority of Americans oppose opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil exploration as well as expanding the use of nuclear energy.

None of these policy attitudes have changed significantly over the past year or two.

Specific Environmental Proposals
March 3-5, 2003


Favor


Oppose

%

%

Setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry

80

19

More strongly enforcing federal environmental regulations

75

21

Imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases

75

22

Setting higher auto emissions standards for automobiles

73

24

Expanding the use of nuclear energy

43

51

Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration

41

55

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,003 adults, 18 years and older, conducted Mar. 3-5, 2003. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Do you think George W. Bush is doing a good job or a poor job in handling each of the following issues as president? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

A. Protecting the nation's environment

 


Good job


Poor job

FAIR/ MIXED (vol.)


No opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

44

43

7

6

2002 Mar 4-7

50

38

7

5

2001 Apr 6-9 ^

49

41

4

6

2001 Mar 5-7 ^

51

38

5

6



B. Improving the nation's energy policy

 


Good job


Poor job

FAIR/ MIXED (vol.)


No opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

39

45

7

9

2002 Mar 4-7

46

36

8

10

2001 Apr 6-9 ^

54

36

3

7

2001 Mar 5-7 ^

58

29

6

7



C. Keeping America prosperous

 


Good job


Poor job

FAIR/ MIXED (vol.)


No opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

44

45

7

4

2002 Mar 4-7

63

26

8

3

2001 Apr 6-9 ^

60

30

4

6

2001 Mar 5-7 ^

66

23

7

4

(vol.) Volunteered response



 

^

Do you think George W. Bush will do a good job or a poor job in handling each of the following issues as president? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?



With which one of these statements about the environment and energy production do you most agree --[ROTATED: protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of limiting the amount of energy supplies -- such as oil, gas and coal -- which the United States produces (or) development of U.S. energy supplies -- such as oil, gas and coal -- should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent]?

 

Environ-
ment

Develop-
ment
of U.S.
energy
supplies

BOTH/
EQUALLY (vol.)

NEITHER/
OTHER (vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

49

40

5

2

4

2002 Mar 4-7

52

40

3

2

3

2001 Mar 5-7

52

36

6

2

4

(vol.) Volunteered response



Next I am going to read some specific environmental proposals. For each one, please say whether you generally favor or oppose it. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

  1. Expanding the use of nuclear energy

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

43

51

6

2002 Mar 4-7

45

51

4

2001 Mar 5-7

44

51

5



B. Opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil exploration

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

41

55

4

2002 Mar 4-7

40

56

4

2001 Nov 8-11 ^

44

51

5

2001 May 7-9 ^ †

38

57

5

2001 Mar 5-7 †

40

56

4

^

Next, here are some things that can be done to deal with the energy situation. For each one, please say whether you generally favor or oppose it. How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

WORDING: Opening up the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration.



C. More strongly enforcing federal environmental regulations

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

75

21

4

2002 Mar 4-7

78

19

3

2001 Mar 5-7

77

20

3



D. Setting higher auto emissions standards for automobiles

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

73

24

3

2002 Mar 4-7

72

26

2

2001 Mar 5-7

75

23

2



E. Setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

80

19

1

2002 Mar 4-7

83

16

1

2001 Mar 5-7

81

17

2



F. Imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions and other greenhouse gases

 

Favor

Oppose

No opinion

2003 Mar 3-5

75%

22

3



How serious would you say the energy situation is in the United States--very serious, fairly serious, or not at all serious?

 

Very
serious

Fairly
serious

Not at all
serious

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

28

59

11

2

2002 Mar 4-7

22

63

12

3

2001 Jun 28-Jul 1

47

43

8

2

2001 May 7-9

58

36

4

2

2001 Mar 5-7

31

59

9

1

1991 Feb 7-10

40

44

14

2

1990 Sep 27-30

32

46

19

3

1990 Sep 10-11

28

48

21

3

1990 Aug 9-12

28

45

23

4

1979 Aug 3-6

47

35

16

3

1979 Jun 1-4

37

36

24

3

1979 Apr 27-May 4

44

36

16

4

1979 Feb 23-26

43

42

13

2

1978 Mar 31-Apr 3

41

39

15

5

1977 Nov 18-21

40

42

14

4

1977 Sep 30-Oct 3

40

40

16

4

1977 Aug 5-8

38

43

13

6

1977 Jun 3-6

40

42

13

5

1977 Apr 29-May 2

44

40

11

5

1977 Apr 1-4

41

39

16

4



Which of the following approaches to solving the nation's energy problems do you think the U.S. should follow right now -- [ROTATED: emphasize production of more oil, gas and coal supplies (or) emphasize more conservation by consumers of existing energy supplies]?

 


More
produc-
tion


More
conser-
vation

BOTH/ EQUALLY (vol.)

NEITHER/ OTHER (vol.)


No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

29

60

7

2

2

2002 Mar 4-7

30

60

6

2

2

2001 May 7-9

35

47

14

2

2

2001 Mar 5-7

33

56

8

1

2

(vol.) Volunteered response



Do you think that the United States is or is not likely to face a critical energy shortage during the next five years?

 


Yes, is


No, is not

ALREADY FACING ONE (vol.)

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

2003 Mar 3-5

56

40

1

3

2002 Mar 4-7

48

49

1

2

2001 Mar 5-7

60

36

1

3

1978 Nov 10-13

45

41

4

10

(vol.) Volunteered response



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